We Want to Know Your Thoughts about the TEDMED Great Challenges

    • April 10, 2012

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is once again supporting the TEDMED conference (April 10-13), which brings together leaders from a wide array of medical and non-medical disciplines to explore the future of health and medicine. This year, we’re especially pleased to sponsor TEDMED’s Great Challenges Program. The Challenges range from childhood obesity to medical privacy, and from stress to superbugs, and are deeply rooted problems in health and medicine with multiple, interconnected causes and pathways to solutions.

At RWJF, our mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Good health and health care are fundamental measures of our success as a nation. In our 40 years, we’ve learned several lessons that apply to our support of TEDMED’s Great Challenges Program. These include the importance of working with partners and building on the efforts of others; facilitating collaboration among unlikely allies; resisting the illusion of complete understanding; as well as the importance of being persistent.

For the past several years, when TEDMED focused on innovation in health and medicine, RWJF supported the conference because it provided an opportunity to explore emerging trends and network. Now that the conference has pivoted to focus on Great Challenges in health and health care—issues that cut across the entire Foundation—2012 support for TEDMED has become a Foundation-wide endeavor.

This year, RWJF is partnering with TEDMED to help ensure that a wide array of voices are heard. TEDMED has now identified a set of 50 Great Challenges that it is presenting to the TEDMED community to assist with narrowing the list to the most pressing 20. TEDMED selected knowledgeable individuals who will serve as “Advocates” for each of the proposed Challenges, and the Advocates will circulate among conference attendees—engaging their input around the nature and importance of their individual Challenge and lobbying attendees to include it among their top 20.

These issues that TEDMED is proposing are worthy of our attention. What's important is the dialogue and the discussion that will produce more engagement, new ideas, and new thinking. If there are gaps or if issues are missing, those attending TEDMED, as well as those participating remotely at partner sites through the Veterans Administration and American Association of Medical Colleges network, will voice their concerns. And there will be opportunities to suggest Challenges for future years.

We want to make sure as many people as possible can participate in the exchange of ideas and voting process. To help facilitate the dialogue, RWJF will be gathering TEDMED’s 50 Advocates in our social space at the event—to meet and discuss the 50 Challenges. And we invite you to join us. Whether you’re attending the conference or participating remotely, here's how you too can take part in the conversation:

  • If you’re at TEDMED, stop by the RWJF social space where the 50 Challenge Advocates will be during the conference’s Social Breaks on Wednesday and Thursday (check the program for specific times for each Advocate).
  • If you’re unable to connect with Advocates in person, you can use these online tools:
    • Download the app, TEDMED Connect (free download available in the iTunes and Android app store, and viewable as a mobile website). The app will allow you to connect directly with any Advocate and to get up-to-date conference information.
    • Email Advocates at GCAdvocates@TEDMED.com with your thoughts and ideas.
    • Follow the conversation on Twitter: Use #TEDMEDchallenges

In addition to our activities around the Great Challenges, on Wednesday, April 11 during the session that begins at 8:45 a.m., RWJF President & CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey will be live on the TEDMED stage to speak about the Foundation’s experience in tackling big challenges in health and health care over the past 40 years. Plus, Vulnerable Populations grantee and Health Leads co-founder Rebecca Onie will speak during the TEDMED session at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10 on “rewriting the DNA of the health care system” so that providers can address patients’ unmet social needs—things like access to secure housing, nutritious food or reliable transportation—as effectively as they treat their medical conditions.